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Second Global Press Release: International Volunteer Day 2012

05 December 2012

Bonn, Germany: Today, December 5th, is International Volunteer Day (IVD).  From Argentina to Pakistan, Slovenia to Timor-Leste, volunteers and voluntary organizations are holding a variety of events including parades, campaigns, conferences, competitions, blood donation drives and coordinated volunteer actions.  They are celebrating with their communities, local institutions, UN organizations and government authorities to recognise the hope and commitment that volunteers bring to make the world a better place. 

“Volunteering can embrace all people, from the activist who works full-time for a cause to the occasional citizen who reaches out when he or she can,” said the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, on this IVD occasion.  “Each sets an example of the spirit of compassion we need.  Each makes a valuable contribution to reaching our common goals.”

International Volunteer Day was designated by the United Nations in 1985 as an opportunity to promote the power and potential of volunteerism worldwide.  This year, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme has initiated a five year strategy to raise global awareness of the existence and importance of IVD.  The strategy includes a new IVD logo and use of the established platform, Volunteer Action Counts, awith its website www.volunteeractioncounts.org.  Through this website, users have downloaded a wide range of IVD promotional materials to support their IVD events, and as communities celebrate around the world, they are uploading their IVD stories, photos and videos.

IVD celebrations taking place today and throughout the week range from individual actions to nation events.  Volunteers and voluntary organizations often join to mark the day, as in South Africa where Volunteer Services Overseas, Regional AIDS Initiative of Southern Africa (RAISA), UNV South Africa, and Peace Corps are offering free diagnostic services, sports activities and donations of food and clothing items to the Lufuno Home Based Care Center in Limpompo Province.  In Accra, Ghana, volunteers are celebrating by cleaning and decorating four separate children's wards for Christmas at the St. Louise Marie Children’s' Hospital. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN Volunteers are marking IVD with a blood donation drive and free HIV testing.  In Guinea Bissau, volunteers have created a national sensitization campaign on recycling and sustainable management of natural resources, while in Sri Lanka, UN Volunteers are holding an art competition with the theme ‘Volunteering for Water’. And in Canada, Volunteer Canada is launching a new website designed to serve as a central connection point for key volunteering organizations and websites across Canada.

Each year, hundreds of millions of people volunteer their time and skills to help others, without expectation of material reward.  However, the complete numbers are incalculable because voluntary actions are not always linked to an institution; in this last year, most people have likely volunteered their free time to help their families, their neighbours or strangers in need.  They do so because the values of volunteerism - solidarity and mutual aid - transcend all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries.  These values are the essence of an active and healthy civil society, which in turn is critical to peace that is durable, and development that is sustainable. As the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon concluded, on International Volunteer Day, “let us renew our determination to offer strength and inspiration to others through volunteerism.”

Note to editors:

About UNV: The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism. UNV is inspired by the conviction that volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development and by the idea that everyone can contribute their time and energy towards peace and development. With partners, UNV advocates for volunteerism, integrates volunteerism into development planning and mobilizes volunteers. The enormous potential of volunteerism is an inspiration to UNV and to volunteers around the world.

Every year, about 7,300 qualified and experienced women and men of around 160 nationalities serve as UN Volunteers in some 130 countries. They are professionals who play key roles contributing to peace and making an impact on development results.  Annually, there are more than 16,000 online volunteering assignments offered by development organizations through the UNV Online Volunteering service.

Visit www.unv.org for more information, or contact Jennifer Stapper, Chief, Communications Section, UNV, +49 (0) 15201522181.

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)